Mar 21, 2023
WASHINGTON— In response to President Biden’s Administration’s Conservation in Action announcements that include the declarations of Castner Range National Monument, Avi Kwa Ame National Monument and the Ocean Climate Action Plan, the GreenLatinos community releases the following statements:
GreenLatinos applauds President Biden, Secretary Haaland, and the entire Biden Administration for taking this necessary step towards improving access to nature, addressing the climate crisis, and taking necessary steps towards protecting our lands and ocean. Castner Range National Monument is undoubtedly the most impactful conservation advancement for Hispanic and Latino/a/e wellness in the U.S. The supermajority of Latino/a/es and low-income residents surrounding the monument area have been living without access to natural open spaces. Now that the monument has been created, our community can envision a future with natural surroundings providing improved mental, heart and lung health while reducing rates of chronic illness and disease.
As the monument's creation bolsters public health, promotes ecological health, and moves us toward the environmental liberation of communities of color and frontline communities, it will spark new economic opportunities in the region. There will soon be new jobs for community members in recreation, conservation area interpretation, clean up, natural resource management, public land administration, and many other careers surrounding the permanent protection of this sacred and historic landscape.
This monument declaration marks a turning point for the expedient recovery of unexploded ordnance from the closed-off Fort Bliss region. We are eager for this dangerous and inaccessible landscape to become a safe and accessible region for respite for the first time in many generations.
The community of El Paso has worked for more than 50 years to see the Castner Range receive the care and respect it deserves as a sacred mountain range. It is the home of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe; crucial wildlife habitat; irreplaceable archaeological sites; a memorial to U.S. military history; and a natural refuge where the people of El Paso and its surrounding communities can seek respite. President Biden has proven today that when America accomplishes its conservation goals, everyone benefits.
Further, we thank President Biden and his administration for designating Avi Kwa Ame National Monument. This national monument is, first and foremost, a landscape embedded in the past, present, and futures of ten Yuman-speaking tribes–the Mohave, Hualapai, Yavapai, Havasupai, Quechan, Maricopa, Pai Pai, and Kumeyaay–as well as the Hopi and Chemehuevi Paiute. The irreplaceable objects protected by this national monument designation include petroglyphs, heritage sites, and rare and threatened wildlife. We are relieved for these sites and wildlife to be rightfully recognized as having national significance and protected from permanent destruction by industrial land conversion.
The people of Las Vegas, Nevada, live with severely inequitable access to nature; Avi Kwa Ame National Monument is our generation’s opportunity to teach environmental education and improve public land access. We hope the monument will stimulate public transit systems and outdoor education so communities on the frontlines of deadly heat waves and nature deprivation can take advantage of the health benefits these sacred conservation lands provide.
In addition to the public land designations being announced today, we applaud the Administration for its acknowledgment of the ocean and for releasing the first-of-its-kind Ocean Climate Action Plan. Ocean climate solutions are necessary to ensure the health of the ocean and to equip communities with the right tools to tackle the climate crisis that many are already facing today. This plan is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to working with the Administration to ensure our communities are considered every step of the way.
“Conserving ecosystems in their natural state is the single most effective action for addressing nature deprivation, climate disaster, and the massive ongoing loss of species happening nationwide and globally. These monuments will also provide jobs and associated economic benefits. Today marks a day that President Biden is acting on his commitment to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and waters by 2030 so more Americans can access the benefits of our natural world.” said Mark Magaña, Founding President and CEO of GreenLatinos
“Conserving the Castner Range National monument on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas for future generations supports the wishes of local Indigenous Peoples and community members. supporting the Castner Range would support local businesses in El Paso, TX so they can grow their recreational offerings throughout the region Avi Kwa Ame National Monument is also a good decision that would support Nevada recreation businesses, a key growth industry in the state that has created 87,000 jobs and generates $12.6 billion consumer spending annually,” said Gabriel Thoumi, CEO of Responsible Alpha
“The Biden Administration has taken a critical step towards honoring our sacred sites, preserving our nation's history, and protecting our natural resources by designating Avi Kwa Ame and Castner Range as national monuments. We are proud that hundreds of thousands of acres of land will be safeguarded through this designation, allowing us to continue to build our bond with Madre Tierra at these unique sites. We will continue to cherish and guard these areas to ensure their respectful use, the protection of endangered wildlife, and their proper resource management. Our future generations will remember and thank us for preserving this special inheritance for them,” said Karina Martinez, Director of Communications for Corazon Latino
“Since time immemorial our people have been relatives to these lands and continue to protect our relatives as best we can. We have gratitude for sacred spaces such as these that can allow healing where war has occurred. The greatest healing we can create is within our hearts, minds, and bodies, an alignment to the Creator that allows us to truly embrace one another as human beings with love for ourselves and each other. In Purepecha culture we have the concept in lakech alache–you and I are one–that is a principle we live through our thoughts, words, and actions. Let us take this time to reflect on the future we can create with each other. Tlazocamati to our ancestors who have brought us thus far-now we must do the work to be good relatives, good ancestors moving our seven generations forward,” said Susana Sandoval, Human Rights Commissioner at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
“There has been enough destruction in Texas as it is. We applaud President Biden for taking action to protect the crown jewel of west Texas, Castner Range National Monument,” said Maxine Rebeles, Laredo, TX Teacher
GreenLatinos is an active comunidad of Latino/a/x leaders, emboldened by the power and wisdom of our culture, united to demand equity and dismantle racism, resourced to win our environmental, conservation, and climate justice battles, and driven to secure our political, economic, cultural, and environmental liberation.